Looking back, it is fairly easy to see that the race to the moon was a geopolitical competition, an attempt to use a technological task as a proxy for answering the question of which political system was the most robust, innovative and effective. But was we enter an age of new geopolitical races, it seems much less clear what this would look like. The first … Continue reading Geopolitical races in technology 2.0
Here is a narrative about the Internet that is getting more and more common: It certainly seems that the Internet is now the realm of a small number of enterprises that dominate this space. This is no longer a diverse, vibrant environment where new entrants compete on equal terms with incumbents, where the pace of innovation and change is relentless, and users benefit from having … Continue reading Measures and causes of centralization of the Internet
A recent study in PNAS suggests that we can at least start thinking about that through inversion – the study of what intolerance is. By looking at the areas of the brain that activate during polarized responses etc a group of researchers are now arguing that intolerance is strongly correlated with a need for certainty. If polarization is the response to uncertainty in our society, … Continue reading Intolerance and polarization as survival strategies
A culture is guided by its concept of happiness, and how that is located in the overall grammar of human existence – and our society is one that is focused on living a happy life. A result of that is that we often ask ourselves if we are happy – whether consciously or not. We compare our level of happiness with others, and then translate … Continue reading The grammar of happiness: a turn towards everyday life?
Almost everyone has heard about the notion of “six degrees of separation” – that there are six jumps between any two persons in, say, the US. The experiment or game actually originates in a short story by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, The Chain, where the object of the game was to connect two random individuals. It was then popularized by experiments where social scientist Stanley … Continue reading What is the optimal degree of separation in a society?
Economist Thomas Schelling made an important observation in his Nobel prize talk in 2005 when he said: “The most spectacular event of the past half century is one that did not occur.We have enjoyed sixty years without nuclear weapons exploded in anger.” Thomas Schelling Nobel Prize Talk. This observation is no less true today, but we can add a worrying conjecture to the observation – … Continue reading Deterrence and memory – is it dangerous to forget nuclear weapons?
A simple model to think through (for flaws as well as merits): industrialization was a process with efficiency as the core competitive dimension, informatization is a process with learning as the core competitive dimension — in a coarse grained model this would almost correspond to the different dimensions in evolution; the first adaptation to the environment (efficiency) and the second adaptation to other adaptive systems … Continue reading Red queen evolution and industrialization / informatization
It is probably correct to say that there has never been as much pressure to reform the US Supreme Court as right now. President Biden has proposed a commission to report in 6 months on court reform, and today a number of democrats presented a bill that would lead to expanding the number of justices to 13. This, in itself, is interesting – the Court … Continue reading The US Supreme Court, ENA and institutional reform
So, kids, when artists of old released what we called singles – individual hits – they would release a record, and that record would have the hit on one side – called the A-side, but then they would be left with the problem of what to put on the other side of the record. That seems an easy one now – just put the second … Continue reading The Lost Art of the B-side
The FT editorial today deals with Danone and its shift to a “purpose driven company”. The shift has been less than successful and its architect was unceremoniously removed. The editorial then goes on to note that there is a tension here between the Milton Friedman vision of companies as socially responsible when they maximize their profits and the more fuzzy vision today of companies as … Continue reading The myth of profit maximization